Court Ruling: Gender Match Insufficient to Qualify as Reasonable Grounds to Issue Photo Ticket



From the beginning, scamera vendors and officials have attempted to quell concerns of legitimacy by stating that an officer will review each and every citation. The problem is, no one ever asked exactly what they’d be reviewing. We should have known better…

In an Oct 2009 court ruling from the Maricopa County Superior Court, a judge has ruled that a photo traffic complaint is not properly issued if an officer merely matches that the sex of the person in the photo matches the sex of the vehicle registrant.

A.R.S. § 28-1561 states that traffic complaints need to contain a certification “by the issuing officer in substance as follows: ‘I hereby certify that I have reasonable grounds to believe and do believe that the person named herein committed the offense or civil violation described herein contrary to law.’” However, an aide from the Tempe police department testified that they only match sex, and do not look at physical descriptions.

Therefore, the court concluded that the traffic complaint was improperly issued because the officer did NOT have reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant committed the offense. That doesn’t seem to have had any effect on procedures, as the police still issue tickets even with obvious race and appearance mismatches. They get away with it because judges don’t seem to want to enforce section B of the statutes which states:

B. A false certification under the provisions of subsection A is perjury.

The intent of the perjury provision is to help ensure that police do not abuse their power by issuing false citations. The reality is that this is what the photo enforcement programs have been about since their inception. They issue known false citations by the hundreds and thousands, as evidenced by court statistics. Most people are happy when their case is dismissed because they don’t resemble the person in the photo; however, anyone receiving a photo ticket where the officer clearly made a false certification needs to take measures to see that the responsible officer be charged with perjury as is appropriate under this statute. Only enforcement of the perjury provision under this statute will have any effect on curbing this attack on the innocent. Of course, the end of all photo enforcement in Arizona in November will achieve that as also.

4 Responses to Court Ruling: Gender Match Insufficient to Qualify as Reasonable Grounds to Issue Photo Ticket

  1. Cathy says:

    During my hearing, in an attempt to establish “reasonable grounds,” the plaintiff submitted a DL photo of me as evidence and testified repeatedly that the complainant reviewed it prior to issuing the notice of violation.

    The NOV’s date? 11/20/08.

    The date the DL photo was taken? 12/22/08.

    I pointed this out and said to the plaintiff, “You just lied under oath.” After 30 seconds of awkward silence during which the plaintiff turned beet-red and tried to figure out how to continue, I requested that my ticket be dismissed.

    I was found responsible.

    The courts, at least here in Tucson, couldn’t care less about ARS 28-1561.

    Which is one of many reasons why we’re going to vote those cameras down in November.

    • Brent says:

      Cathy,

      Who is the pinhead judge in this case? Please share this with us..

      Their disreputable name should be circulated in the marketplace so people can know about their dishonesty and vote not to retain them in November.

  2. Cathy says:

    Unfortunately, she’s not a judge–she’s a “special limited magistrate” and therefore appointed, not elected.

    She’s also married to Tucson’s assistant chief of police (hi, conflict of interests).

    Also, she has NO FORMAL LEGAL BACKGROUND. (In Arizona, special limited magistrates aren’t required to have one.) It was obvious throughout my hearing that she didn’t know her ass from her elbow; she was simply a pawn hired to say “Responsible” at the end of every hearing, no matter what.

    Believe me, it’s a travesty no matter how you slice it.

  3. John says:

    I’m a lawyer in California but there’s got to be some means of appealing the result of your hearing. was there any audio record of the (kangaroo) court proceedings.
    wish I could vote in Az. this November!

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